Bennerley Viaduct Selected for Inclusion in 2020 World Monuments Watch List.

Bennerley Viaduct, the grade II* listed Victorian wrought iron structure straddling the Derbyshire/Nottinghamshire boundary, has gained international recognition by its inclusion in the 2020 World Monuments Watch list.  The railway viaduct, still on Historic England’s at-risk register, is one of just 25 projects selected from a competitive pool of 250 nominations worldwide, and the only site to be chosen in Britain this year.  All the sites included in the 2020 World Monuments Watch List were selected to support communities who are striving to save sites of outstanding cultural importance

Bennerley Viaduct. A structure of Outstanding Cultural Importance

World Monuments Watch is run by the New York based World Monuments Fund, a private non-profit organisation, which sponsors an ongoing programme for the conservation of cultural heritage worldwide. The World Monuments Fund identifies endangered sites and works with local communities to conserve their heritage and to explore ways of ensuring its long-term stewardship.

The Friends of Bennerley Viaduct, who submitted the application, and owners Railway Paths Ltd, are delighted by this massive boost to their joint project. Kieran Lee of the Friends said:

 “Inclusion in the World Monuments Watch List is recognition of the cultural significance of the viaduct and of its potential to improve people’s lives. Over the next two years we’ll benefit from the support and advice of heritage experts and increase our chances of gaining further funding for our project.”  

Chair of the Friends group, Jeff Wynch, added:

“Our group has come a long way since its first meeting in 2015, but we need to grow and develop so that we can secure the site’s long-term future. This new partnership with the World Monuments Watch could not have come at a better time.”

Securing the long term future of the viaduct is a key aim of the Friends of Bennerley Viaduct

John Darlington, Executive Director of the World Monument Fund, Britain said:

  “Bennerley is an extraordinary monument – special because of its historical importance as the longest wrought iron viaduct in Britain, but also special because of what it means to the local community. It’s a delightful opportunity to showcase heritage and its contribution to health, wellbeing and as a home to nature. We’re so pleased that is has made it onto the 2020 Watch, and look forward to a catalytic partnership.”

John Darlington, Executive Director of the World Monument Fund (Britain) examines the wrought iron piers at the viaduct.

Plans to repair and restore Bennerley Viaduct and to create access to a new deck were approved this summer, and enough funds have been raised for the project to start in Autumn 2019. Recent weeks have seen a massive volunteer effort to relocate great crested newts, so that repair work on the brick piers can begin and vegetation has been cleared to create access for contractors.  Public engagement with the project continues to grow in all respects from increased membership and volunteer numbers to oversubscribed guided walks and attendances at illustrated talks. International recognition from the World Monument Watch will add to the amazing momentum that the project is generating.

The Great Crested Newts of Bennerley Viaduct in safe hands.

For further information about the World Monument Watch 2020, this short video highlights the important work done by the WMF. World Monument Watch Video.

Volunteer Workdays –

There will be four volunteer workdays in October, the focus of which will be the rehoming of our resident newt population. We need to prepare all the pier bases for restoration and it is likely that there will be Great Crested Newts loving in the cracks in the brickwork. The newts need to be rehoused into new newt shelters of hibernaculae.

These workdays will take place at the following dates and times.


Wednesday 23rd Oct – Pier bases – Newt relocation 9:30 am – 3:30 pm (full)
Thursday 24th Oct  – Pier Bases – Newt Relocation 9:30 am – 3:30 pm (full)

Friday 25th Oct – Pier Bases – Newt Relocation 9:30 am – 3:30 pm (spaces available)
Saturday 26th Oct. – Pier bases – Newt relocation. 9:30 am to 3:30 pm (spaces available)

This work will involve the following.
Removing loose brickwork (strenuous)
Stacking and cleaning loose brickwork, (Moderate)
Digging out pathways around pier bases, Strenuous
Constructing  6 hibernacula  (Moderate)
Clearing all debris from pier bases.
Making all surfaces sound ready for contractors.
Clearing all vegetation from around the pier bases.
An example of a hibernacula or newt shelter

The workdays will take place under the supervision of a licensed ecologist as Great Crested Newts are a protected species. Please contact Kieran at kieran.lee@bennerleyviaduct.org.uk if you want to take part. There are currently spaces on Friday 25th and Saturday 26th. Please be on time for the start of the sessions as there will be a briefing for participants prior to work taking place.

This work has to take place prior to October 31st as a pre commencement planning condition. If the newts are not safely rehoused prior to the 31st, there will be a considerable delay to the works. Your help is therefore critical to the project. Out thanks go to those who have already volunteered. Please get in touch if you can support on either the Friday or Saturday.

Green Light to Re-open Bennerley Viaduct

Plans to bring Bennerley Viaduct back into use as a spectacular walkway high above across the Erewash Valley have been given the green light by both Erewash and Broxtowe Borough Councils. 

The Erewash Borough Council planning committee voted unanimously to pass the planning application stating it was a fantastic development which would become a brilliant asset to the area. They welcomed the positive impact the project would have on the health and wellbeing of the community. One councillor commented that we should all be proud of “Cotmanhay’s Eiffel Tower”.

Broxtowe Borough Council also fully supported the plans.

The grade 2* structure which straddles the Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire border has been closed for the last 50 years. The project will carry out critical repairs to the structure and create access both on top of and underneath the viaduct. The viaduct will create an important link in the area’s extensive trail network connecting the Erewash and Nottingham Canals.

Commenting on the decision, Bill Tomson from Railway Paths, the Viaduct’s owners said “These decisions are a real milestone in Bennerley Viaduct’s history. We are delighted with the outcome. The project will bring a historic structure back into use and encourage walking and cycling in an inspirational location.”

Jeff Wynch, the chair of the Friends of Bennerley Viaduct stated:  “We are delighted with the decisions from both Councils which enable this exciting initiative to move forwards. The project will create new opportunities for active recreation and enjoyment and will extend the life of the viaduct for future generations to enjoy. We are grateful to the councils, owners and funders who share our vision to bring this iconic structure back into public use.”

Paul Miller, the chair of the Ilkeston and District History Society said: “This is fantastic news. The viaduct is a locally and nationally important structure. It is a tribute to the ingenuity of our Victorian engineers and the awesome endeavours of 19th century railway pioneers. The decision to bring this historic structure back to life for the community to enjoy is one which we welcome wholeheartedly.”

Although a large proportion of the funding has been raised, there is still a shortfall.  Over the next few months, The Friends of Bennerley Viaduct will be busy fundraising to enable the community to contribute to the viaduct’s future and have a real stake in the project. The construction and access works are due to start this Autumn with the reopening taking place in 2020.

Bennerley Viaduct Project secures National Lottery Heritage Fund Grant.

The charity Railway Paths Ltd has received confirmation that The National Lottery Heritage Fund will contribute £99,500 towards the Bennerley Viaduct project. The project aims to repair and restore the historic structure and make it accessible for the public to use and enjoy and will be delivered by the viaduct’s owners Railway Paths Ltd with support from the Friends of Bennerley Viaduct and Sustrans.

The project is planned to start in August with works starting in Autumn and continuing through to Spring 2020.

As well as the generous support of The National Lottery Heritage Fund, financial support for the project to enable it to happen has been secured from the following organisations:

  • Railway Heritage Trust
  • Historic England
  • HB Allen Charitable Trust
  • Charles Hayward Foundation
  • Pilgrim Trust
  • Broxtowe Borough Council
  • Railway Ramblers

Commenting on the award, Jeff Wynch, Chair of the Friends of Bennerley Viaduct said: “We would like to thank The National Lottery Heritage Fund and all the other bodies that have provided the financial support for this project to go ahead. Railway Paths Ltd are to be congratulated on developing a plan which will fulfil the long-held hopes of the Erewash Valley communities to restore, preserve and celebrate this major example of Victorian engineering.”

World Monument Fund visit Viaduct

Left to Right: Ben Daykin, Sarah Meaker, John Darlington, Paul Miller, Bill Tomson

John Darlington, the Chief Executive of the World Monuments Fund (Britain) and Sarah Meaker WMF Outreach Manager visit Bennerley following an application by the Friends of Bennerley Viaduct (FoBV) for the structure to be considered as a World Monument Watch 2020 site. The 2020 World Monuments Watch will include 25 sites from around the world in need of urgent action, each site telling a local story that carries global significance. Through the Watch, World Monuments Fund will partner with local stakeholders to design and implement targeted activities—including advocacy, planning, education, and conservation interventions in the historic built environment. Paul Miller, Ben Daykin and Kieran Lee from the FoBV showed the guests around the structure and Bill Tomson from Railway Paths Ltd, explained details of the current planning application to reopen the viaduct.

Viaduct set to reopen for the first time in 50 years

Plans to restore the viaduct and bring it back into use as a walking and cycling trail moved a giant step forwards with the submission of planning applications to Broxtowe and Erewash Borough Councils. Full details of the planning application can be found on both the Broxtowe and Erewash Planning websites.

Erewash Reference Number: ERE/419/0062 and ERE/419/0061

Broxtowe Reference Number 19/00093/FUL and 19/00094/LBC

Planning Application Submitted to reopen Viaduct

Image by Paul Atherley

A planning application to restore and reopen Bennerley Viaduct has been submitted to Broxtowe and Erewash Borough Councils. The plans include carrying out critical repairs to the structure and creating access on and underneath the viaduct. The Friends of Bennerley Viaduct extend thanks and appreciation to the owners, Railway Paths Ltd and to the local and wider community for the incredible support given to the project. Details of the application can be found here (See Planning Application)

Links to an article in the Nottingham Evening Post is also attached. See article